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Author Topic: Some observations on MQ neck & Abraxas bridge set  (Read 4213 times)

Deafcat64

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Some observations on MQ neck & Abraxas bridge set
« on: August 24, 2012, 01:46:32 PM »
Hi everyone! I thought I would post a review of my BKP set in my workhorse, and favorite axe, but first.......... This isn't my first post here but I thought I should give everyone a bit of background so that my review has at least a shred of credibility, and folks will have a better feel for where I'm coming from on my posts and responses.

I started playing guitar when I was 4 years old. My dad, who is an amazing musician (a bagpipe guru here in the states, he is very good friends with Jimmy McIntosh, the former pipe major for The Black Watch pipe band there in England) helped me very much. By the time I was 16, I was playing regular paying gigs. I built my first guitar in Jr High School shop class. I started building valve amps, kind of by accident, in 2002. Since then, I have built several Plexis, JTMs, Twins, Bassman & Bandmasters, some fantastic lower wattage beauties (my personal favorite is the 18 watt Marshall) and a few EL84 driven amps. I still build and repair valve amps on a very limited basis.  On July 4th, 2010, I played my last fully professional gig. It was the 30th anniversary of my first "paying" gig. I have been semiretired since then. In all those years, I tried nearly every pickup, and string being produced, looking for "my sound". I feel that Bare Knuckle Pickups are the most comprehensive, well crafted pickups that I've used. I hope that this review will help anyone looking for that elusive "perfect tone".

When my dad gave me my SG Standard, I was a bit shocked. It was the only thing he had ever done to encourage my musical career. It was in 1999, and it was used back then. It's a 1991, just like my G&L. I knew it was going to be my #1. It was loaded with a 490R and 490T, which I absolutely did not like. I changed the 300k pots to 500k, and threw out the ceramic caps for orange drops. I tried Duncans Jazz & JB set first. That was OK still not right. I tried Lollar Imperials, Duncan Antiquity and DiMarzios with no promising results. The Lollars were nice but overrated. I tried Gibson Burstbuckers (I tried all three versions of these).  I invested in a set of Lindy Fralin 5% over wound humbuckers. I tried Fralin's High Output Humbuckers with ALNICO IV magnets (They are close to the Abraxas but a bit too bass heavy). They were better, but Fralin doesn't "tailor" pickups to suit different styles. He just offers over or under wound. Finally, I read Steve Stevens was working on a signature pickup and started looking into Bare Knuckle Pickups. I made a trip to New York, and while I was there, I had the chance to actually try several BKPs in my SG (Riff Raff, Mule, Stormy Monday, Emerald, Black Dog, Cold Sweat, and Abraxas). This was the definitive "turning point" in my quest for "my individual sound".

I recently installed a Mississippi Queen in the neck, and an Abraxas in the bridge of my #1, SG Standard. I was a little concerned, at first, that the P90 may not mix well with the higher output Abraxas. My concerns were unfounded. The Mississippi Queen actually overpowers the Abraxas. They sound fantastic together! I'll start with the Abraxas bridge. It has a very balanced tone. No one frequency overpowers the others. Very fast bass response, and quite deep, without any "boominess". The mids are rich, and very vocal like but not a nasal sounding pickup at all. The highs are bright enough to give it a little edge but not too bright. It has a very vintage feel, but it can do heavier material quite well. It really brings out the natural tone of the wood in my SG. The clarity of both of these pickups is the best I've encountered. I understand that nearly all Bare Knuckle pickups have the clarity factor. Playing through any of my amps (JCM800, Fender Twin, Dumble style ODS, all hand wired), using the volume and tone controls I've been able to cover every style I generally play, and then some. I'm not a "metal" player, but the Abraxas seems to do pretty well for metal. I played some Metallica and Ozzy tunes and it handled it without any effort. lower the height a bit and you're almost in Mule territory. It is probably the most useful pickup I've had in any of my guitars.

The Mississippi Queen is a fantastic pickup. Very open, with just a bit less grit than a standard P90, but not enough to rob it of the P90 mojo. The output of this thing is huge. It really overpowers the Abraxas bridge set at the same height. It took some tweaking to find the "sweet spot" for this pairing. Like the Abraxas, it has a really open, rich sound. It responds better to the volume and tone controls than the Abraxas. The mids are full, with no spikes, or any of the other problems I've encountered with SD, Gibson, or any others I've tried. It actually comes pretty close to the original P90s in my friend's 1962 Les Paul SG, though he did change the pots and caps in it, and wouldn't tell me what values he used (he still has the original parts).

Overall, this is a very versatile setup for me. I don't try to sound like anyone else at this stage of the game. I can't tell you these sound like any other players, or bands tone. I can tell you that they are a very high quality, great sounding, versatile pickups, with a nice, open, vintage feel with enough balls to push an amp well. I consider it money well spent.
1990 G&L S-500, SG Standard
Abraxas, Mississippi Queen

Deafcat64

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Re: Some observations on MQ neck & Abraxas bridge set
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2012, 01:51:12 PM »
I should add that my control cavity and pickup cavities are completely shielded with copper foil. There is absolutely no hum form fluorescent lights, ceiling fans or any other 60cycle hum producing beastie.
1990 G&L S-500, SG Standard
Abraxas, Mississippi Queen

MyName

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Re: Some observations on MQ neck & Abraxas bridge set
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 01:07:15 PM »
Nice review, would love to hear them.
I actually considered both the MQ set or the Abraxus set for my PRS Mccarty but ended up with a VHii set. I guess I thought the MQ's would be a little too much in this guitar. I do love the p-90 vibe though.

Telerocker

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Re: Some observations on MQ neck & Abraxas bridge set
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 11:53:01 PM »
That's a great historical summary and excellent review of your experiences with those pickups in an SG. Especially the middier Abraxas is not the pickup that's often related to an SG. Could be an eyeopener for SG-owners. There are more ways that lead to sonic nirvana.  :)
I always admire people who can build amps, cause I understand just a little bit of it. Keep up the good work and let those BKP's sing!
Mules, VHII, Crawler, MM's, IT's, BG50's.